The garment manufacturers of Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur, the knitwear hub of the country, are a worried lot as the second wave of Covid pandemic sweeps across the world. Export orders worth millions of dollars stand cancelled as many European countries see shutdowns in wake of surging Covid cases.
Tiruppur Exporters Association President Raja M. Shanmugham, talking to IANS, said: “The garment industry of Tiruppur is facing a major crisis as several European countries are facing a huge surge in Covid cases…. Already most of the top brands and showrooms are shut in Europe and they can’t even take our pending orders, and hence the possibilities of new orders are bleak.”
Several units in Tiruppur, which has a collective turnover of around Rs 2,500 crore in exports a month, are facing huge losses and seeing factories shut down. Coupled with increase in prices of yarn and threat of Covid, most of the units face the threat of closing down.
Krishnan Menon, owner of Saibaba Exporters based out of Tiruppur, told IANS that he has “more than 500 employees working in my knitwear unit. We are already facing the hike in prices of yarn and now with the international markets shutting down, the possibilities of continuing with the business is remote and we may have no other option but to shut down the unit creating misery for myself as well as my employees”.
The state Health Department had conducted a virtual meeting of garment manufacturers and exporters on Wednesday to apprise them of the grave situation arising owing to Covid and to be extra careful in dealing with the Covid patients.
Several units in Tiruppur, however, do not have facilities to house their employees and hence it is difficult to track their movement, and guard against spread of Covid.
The government has already communicated to the manufacturers association to conduct vaccination of all their employees to prevent the disease’s spread. Recently 30 workers of a unit tested positive and this has led to its shutting down.
Tiruppur houses around 9,000 garment factories and provides employment to 5 lakh people. Apart from exports worth Rs 2,500 crore a month, it makes an equal amount from the domestic market.
Shanmugam said: “The industry is worth Rs 55,000 crore annually and we employ 5 lakh people. If this market is shut, you can very well imagine the consequences it has and the spiralling effect on the society.”